Ed Oswald

FISA court orders allow data storage without a warrant

A set of two FISA court orders leaked on Thursday indicate that surveillance agencies can store data it has collected for up to five years, even on those not suspected of any crime.

The latest revelations indicate that the secretive court gives the NSA broad powers to maintain a database of information regardless of how the agency maintained it. This includes data that is "inadvertently" collected as part of a broader investigation. Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on both orders in April 2009, indicating the storage of data has likely occurred for at least four years, if not longer.

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NSA phone tracking to be scaled back, says official

The NSA expects to scale back its phone tracking program in the near future, the agency’s director says. The comments came as part of a broader hearing in front of the House Intelligence Committee over the recent disclosures of NSA activities.

Director Gen. Keith Alexander told California Rep. Adam Schiff during questioning that his agency and the FBI are reviewing how the phone tracking program might be changed. Currently, the NSA asks only for the metadata -- general information about the call like phone numbers, duration, and location -- whether the person is suspected of terrorism or not, and en masse.

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Edward Snowden -- A fine line between hero and traitor

The South China Morning Post is the next stop on Snowden’s media tour. Not to discuss the NSA’s surveillance on American citizens, but the agency’s work in China. You read that right, that’s not a typo.

Snowden tells the (semi) independent Hong Kong paper that the NSA’s PRISM program is used against companies and people within China, and that the US government is and has been hacking into computers in both China and Hong Kong for at least four years.

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Your Fourth Amendment rights don't apply to Facebook

Last week, a federal district court made a ruling that has broad implications for your privacy on Facebook. The end result is that you should be much more careful about what you share on Facebook with whom, because regardless of whether your profile is private or not, the Federal Government can use your friends to gather evidence against you, which in turn can be used against you in a court of law.

This is what happened to accused gangster Melvin Colon. The Bronx, N.Y. man used his Facebook to brag about his apparent exploits, which according to reports included messages of loyalty to his gang, posts on violent acts and threats to other people. The US Government was then able to find a friend who worked against Colon, and allowed law enforcement to use his or her Facebook to gather evidence.

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Toshiba bows out of Windows RT, Microsoft works damage control

Toshiba is the third Microsoft OEM to pass on Windows RT, saying Tuesday that it has cancelled all plans for devices based on the platform for the foreseeable future. The announcement follows the very public comments of Acer CEO JT Wang, whose comments on Surface suggest his company isn't interested either, and a similar move by HP back in June.

"Toshiba has decided not to introduce Windows RT models due to delayed components that would make a timely launch impossible. For the time being, Toshiba will focus on bringing Windows 8 products to market", a company spokesperson tells BetaNews.

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AT&T begins giving 'Early iPhone Discount' to select customers

With iPhone 5's launch presumably close, and the 4S itself being discounted at carriers and retailers (and Apple, too, if you ask), AT&T now offers an early discount to smartphone customers ahead of the launch of the next model.

AT&T smartphone customers are being extended the same benefit that iPhone 3GS customers received in 2010 ahead of the launch of the iPhone 4, and some iPhone 4 customers saw ahead of the iPhone 4S announcement. As was the case previously, getting the special pricing requires a new two-year contract.

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Red Hat's OpenStack preview debuts, supported version due in 2013

Red Hat released a preview of its OpenStack cloud platform, and says a fully supported version will debut in 2013. The move puts the open-source software company in direct competition with Citrix and its CloudStack offering, a move aimed to solidify its position in the cloud computing industry.

The company's software joins at least two other enterprise-grade OpenStack distributions: Piston Computing's Enterprise OpenStack, and another called Nebula, which was created by OpenStack cofounder Chris Kemp. Nebula will debut within the next several months.

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Apple price matches iPhone, but it's nothing new -- should you wait anyway?

Here come the iPhone price cuts. With the launch of the iPhone 5 likely a little over a month away, retailers are beginning to drop prices on iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models in stock in order to make way for the new device.

There's a key difference here over previous pricing changes, and that's the adjustments are originating with the carriers first and trickling down to retailers. AT&T and Verizon's pricing on the iPhone 4 and 4S remain at $99 and $199 for the 16GB model: however Sprint has lowered the price of the 4S to $149.99.

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Mars Rover Curiosity camera isn't as good as your cell phone's

NASA's Curiosity rover landed on the surface of Mars on Sunday night, and almost immediately began transferring back to Earth the first images of the Martian surface. But for its reported $2.5 billion price tag, the images have a little less clarity than you might expect.

Curiosity's cameras have a maximum resolution of two megapixels. For perspective's sake, modern smartphones typically are 8MP or more. The result will be images that are sharper than those of Martian rovers past, yet lack the clarity that would be expected of a modern research craft.

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YouTube app disappears from latest iOS 6 beta, Apple says license has 'ended'

Apple's divorce from Google is nearly complete: say goodbye to the native YouTube app. The change came within iOS 6 Beta 4 which released to testers on Monday. The reasons for the move are unclear: little was said other than the license to carry YouTube in iOS had expired.

Monday's news follows Apple's decision to dump Google Maps in favor of its own in-house solution. As competition heated up in the smartphone sector and Google's Android gained more market share, the two companies have begun to distance themselves from one another.

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Apple's dock connector update may trigger refresh of entire product line

While the focus on Apple's next big thing has surrounded the likely release of the iPhone 5 next month, the Cupertino, Calif. company's decision to change the dock connector may affect its entire product line, a new report claims.

Rene Ritchie at iMore says sources told the publication that the entire iOS device lineup will receive a refresh when the iPhone 5 launches, rumored to occur on September 12. The report claims that date will see a refreshed iPad, new iPod nano and iPod touches, the iPhone 5, and even the debut of the 7-inch iPad.

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What's in a name? Metro becomes a bad word at Microsoft

Microsoft isn't known for its ability in picking catchy names, so it was somewhat shocking when the Redmond, Wash. company began referring to its clean, typography-first interface as "Metro". It was beautifully simple, and just seemed to fit.

Not anymore.

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Dead Trigger is now free on iOS too, but is piracy really to blame?

A week after Madfinger Games made much to-do about piracy driving its decision to make first-person zombie shooting game Dead Trigger free on the Android platform, the game developer has now done the same for the iOS version.

Those who purchased the game while it was 99 cents will be given in-game currency 25 gold and ten casino chips in the 1.1.2 update. Unlike last time however, there is no grandstanding from CEO Marek Rabas on a privacy problem on Apple's mobile platform. All we know is that Madfinger is moving to a "freemium" model with Dead Trigger, and in one case, blamed it on piracy.

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Why aren't you mobilizing your business in the cloud?

Is your business cloud-ready? More importantly, are you using the cloud to mobilize your business? Mobile connectivity has become crucial to businesses, and in many cases a necessity. While on the road, it's important for your employees to have access to their email, mission-critical business applications, and the Web itself.

A recent study by research firm SMB Group showed that small-and-medium businesses are looking to mobilize, not only increase productivity but save money. Forty-four percent of all respondents said the ability to work from the field was a driving force in their mobile business strategy, while one-quarter say the ability to make decisions faster was a key factor.

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Twitter admits it acted inappropriately in suspending journalist's account

The controversy over the suspension of a Twitter account belonging to a journalist critical of NBC's Olympics coverage deepened Tuesday. UK daily The Telegraph reports that NBC officials say Twitter alerted the network first about The Independent correspondent's tweets, which Twitter later confirmed.

Twitter's move will likely upset those already complaining that Twitter's actions were an affront to free speech even more: the social network actually informed NBC's social media department how to use its complaint system, which resulted in the suspension.

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